FAA requirements for heart bypass, stent procedures

August 25, 2014

Warren Silberman

Warren Silberman

  • Former Manager, FAA Aerospace Medical Certification 
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Expert in Aerospace/Preventive Medicine 
  • Pilot since 1986

A common question at the AOPA Pilot Protection Services booth during EAA AirVenture this year was, “What are the requirements after heart bypass and coronary stent procedures?”   

In January 2013 there was a Cardiology Summit at the FAA to discuss current procedures for some of the common cardiac events. The cardiologists determined that it was no longer necessary to wait the six months after some of these procedures. Heart bypass remained unchanged, meaning if you have had bypass of any of your coronary arteries, you must still wait the six months.   

Angioplasty and stent procedures wait times have been reduced to 90 days, unless the artery that is treated is the left main stem artery (LMCA). This is the artery that comes off the aorta that divides into two arteries that supply the front, side, and back portion of the heart. Procedures involving this artery continue to require a six-month observation period before applying for a special issuance.   

Here are requirements for the “initial” certification for third class airmen. 

A. A typed letter from the treating cardiologist that states how you have done since the procedure, lists all of your current medications, and notes the plan for further observation. 

B. A current lipid panel (cholesterol, HDL, LDL, etc.) and fasting blood sugar.

C. A maximal Bruce protocol stress test to a minimum of 85 percent of your heart rate up to 100 percent of the heart rate. Applicants for a first or second class medical must provide a maximal nuclear stress test.

D. Applicants for a first or second class medical must also provide a repeat cardiac catheterization.